The new McLaren P1™ is engineered to offer more driving enjoyment and faster lap times than any road car ever built. Thanks to its Formula 1™-derived aerodynamics, it has more downforce than any rival. This helps track speed and also gives greater driver confidence.
Other Formula 1™ touches, learnt from almost 50 years of McLaren Grand Prix racing success, include all-carbon construction, new carbon ceramic disc brakes, KERS-like power boost and DRS to give extra straight line speed. It previews tomorrow’s Formula 1™ technology too, including a petrol turbo V8 engine mated to a powerful electric motor (mandatory in Formula 1™ from 2014). There is some superior ‘yesterday’ Formula 1™ technology too, including active aerodynamics and active suspension (both now banned for conferring a clear performance advantage). The result is the most exciting, capable, technologically advanced and dynamically accomplished super sports car ever made.
The amazing aerodynamic performance – allied to the carbon fibre construction, advanced suspension and powerful petrol-electric engine – puts the McLaren P1™ in a different league from any hyper sports car that has gone before. Absolute top speed was not a priority – although with an electronically limited v-max of 350km/h (217mph), the McLaren P1™ is not short in that department. Rather, our goal for the McLaren P1™ is for it to be the fastest-ever production car on a racing circuit, a much more important technical statement and more relevant for road driving. We expect that owners will also use their cars on the circuit, at special track and test days.
Naturally, such a technologically advanced car will be built in small volume. Just 375 examples will be made, ensuring exclusivity as well as desirability.
All McLarens are engineering-led. Form follows function. Like a Formula 1™ racing car, everything is designed for a reason. The McLaren P1™’s design began life in the wind tunnel and was optimised using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) aerodynamic tools – just like a Formula 1™ car.
The shape of the body is determined by the path of the air flowing over and around the car. This means a low rear deck, sculpted doors and a teardrop-shaped glass canopy to make the body as slippery as possible and to generate maximum downforce. The McLaren P1™ is dramatically low and ground hugging. Its long rear deck – like a Le Mans racer’s – has a prominent wing which can extend by up to 300mm. The brief was to design a car that was ‘light and agile’. Even the number of body panels – all made from lightweight carbon fibre – was kept to a minimum (five main panels only).
The McLaren P1™ generates an astonishing 600kg of downforce at 257km/h (161mph). We believe this is the most downforce ever offered by a road-legal series-production car. More downforce gives greater speed but also more driver control. It helps balance, stability and driveability at all speeds.
The aerodynamics are active. The rear wing automatically changes pitch to optimise stability. Under-body flaps change angle, optimising aero performance. On the track, the McLaren P1™ can be lowered – at the touch of a button – to hover 50mm nearer the road, producing ground-effect suction, boosting grip and downforce, and also increasing driver confidence. DRS (Drag Reduction System), as used on Formula 1™ to boost straight-line speed, is also used on the McLaren P1™. It is selected by a button on the steering wheel and reduces the angle of the rear wing to zero.
McLaren is the global automotive carbon fibre pioneer. We introduced the first carbon Formula 1™ car (the MP4/1 in 1981) and the world’s first all-carbon bodied road car (the McLaren F1 of 1993). Every McLaren road car has had a carbon fibre tub, just like modern Formula 1™ cars. The McLaren P1™ uses a new carbon fibre MonoCage structure, including floorpan, roof and the distinctive snorkel air intake. The whole structure weighs just 90kg. This high-tech tub gives numerous dynamic benefits. The low weight improves performance and reduces emissions, agility is enhanced and the high torsional rigidity ensures accurate suspension geometry, boosting ride and handling.
Formula 1™ carbon fibre technology is also used for the body panels. They are light as well as immensely strong. As they are moulded, they can have complex shapes, allowing them to do as many jobs as possible and further reducing weight. The front clamshell includes the moulded luggage bin. The wheel arch liners double as air intake ducts and as mountings for battery, charge air coolers, oil coolers and the clutch.
Petrol-electric power was chosen to boost driving enjoyment and all-round performance. An electric motor delivers maximum torque instantly, so it’s superb for good throttle response – a prerequisite for a great driver’s car. Allied to a powerful twin-turbo V8, it gives both instant power and tremendous top-end performance, the best of both worlds. The 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine produces 737PS (727bhp) at 7500rpm, while the electric motor, developed specially by McLaren Electronics, produces 179PS (176bhp). Together maximum power is 916PS (903bhp) while maximum torque is 900Nm.
In the normal ‘default’ mode, or IPAS (Instant Power Assist System),the petrol and electric engines work seamlessly together. There are Normal, Sport and Track modes (selected by a rotary switch) and a Race mode (push a button). A separate Boost button – similar to Formula 1™-style KERS – instantly adds the maximum power and torque of the electric engine. A Launch mode gives extra fast standing-start acceleration. In addition, an E-mode enables the car to drive on silent electric power, free of any tailpipe emissions. The plug-in electric power helps give the McLaren P1™ astonishingly low emissions for a car with so much performance: CO2 is less than 200g/km.
The McLaren P1™ has probably the most advanced suspension ever fitted to a road car. It has active ride, roll and pitch control, and is height adjustable. Lowering the car allows the McLaren P1™ to produce astonishing levels of ground effect suction, clamping it to the road. The advanced hydro-pneumatic RaceActive Chassis Control (RCC) gives major advantages in ride, handling and grip, and can be changed to suit the driver’s personal preferences. Damping is adaptive. As with the 12C, metal anti-roll bars – which invariably reduce ride quality and the car’s ability to ‘flow’ over the road – are redundant.
There are four suspension settings. Normal, Sport and Track – selected by rotary control – ensure the ideal behaviour for comfortable cruising, dynamic road driving or track activity respectively. In Race mode, the McLaren P1™ becomes a fully focused racing car. Roll and heave stiffness are almost rock hard – the spring rates stiffen by 300 per cent – and ride height is now wafer thin. The car can corner at more than 2g. The McLaren P1™ has the same braking capability as a GT3 sports racing car, a step ahead of any super sports car sold today. Akebono, McLaren’s Formula 1™ and Automotive braking partner, developed bespoke carbon ceramic disc brakes, lighter and smaller than previous discs. Tyres are specially engineered by McLaren Automotive partner, Pirelli.
The cabin is cocooning, efficiently packaged, comfortable and free from clutter. It was inspired by fighter jet, complete with glass canopy overhead. It focuses on the needs of the driver. As with the exterior, it looks shrink-wrapped, free from flab. The carbon fibre structure is clearly on display. Why clad it with unnecessary (and weight wasting) trim? It’s minimalist in design, yet offers luxuries such as satellite navigation, climate control, decent stowage space and the convenience of high-tech TFT (thin-film transistor) instrumentation, whose display changes as you scroll between the different driving modes.
Weight saving, a priority throughout the car, is much in evidence. Even the top layer of resin on the carbon has been excluded, saving 1.5kg. There is no sound deadening. The thin racing seats have carbon shells and minimal padding, as in a sports racer. As always for McLaren, good visibility was a priority. The deep windscreen gives particularly good front vision. The front wheels sit directly below the highest point of the wings, to enable the car to be positioned precisely. You could easily imagine Formula 1™ tyres there instead.
|POWER||903 bhp / 916 ps|
|FUEL CONSUMPTION||34 mpg(combined) 8.3 l/100 km|
|0-100 kph (62 mph)||2.8 s|
|0-200 kph (124 mph)||6.8 s|
|0-300 kph (186 mph)||16.5 s|
|100-0 kph (30.2m 99ft)||2.9 s|
|200-0 kph (116m 380ft)||4.5 s|
|300-0 kph (246m 806ft)||6.2 s|